Have you ever sat down to study and found it was impossible to concentrate? It could be that you have not chosen an adequate study area for yourself. The environment where one chooses to study or work is integral to overall success.
Use this handy guide to create the perfect study area for yourself or your children. I am confident that if you follow some of these tips, you will see improvements in your concentration and overall success!
- Choose the space
Where you choose to study will determine whether or not you will be able to focus and concentrate properly. The first rule of choosing a study space is to avoid doing any work on your bed. Your brain associates your bed with sleep and relaxation. It is simply too tempting to rest when you are in bed.
In choosing the right space to study, think about your personal studying style. Do you prefer to work somewhere with lots of windows and natural light, or does staring out the window distract you? Do you find you need complete quiet, or is it preferable to study somewhere that you can hear ‘white noise’? Choose a space that has adequate workspace and an upright chair. The amount of light is important, because you do not want to strain your eyes or fall asleep due to bad lighting.
There should be minimal distractions around your study area. Any clutter must be eliminated in order to ensure that the area feels peaceful and not chaotic. Try to choose an area that is not close to where family members congregate (like the kitchen, family room, etc). If it is impossible to block out noise, invest in ear plugs, noise-cancelling headphones, or white noise to aid you in focusing on your work.
- Set up
Once you have chosen the perfect space, you are ready to set up your study area. This step is very important, because you do not want to waste time once you are ready to study by wasting time searching for a study tool. Therefore, the key to setting up a study space is being proactive in equipping your study area with anything you might need for study success. Items that should be in every study space include: a dictionary, thesaurus, calculator, notebooks and writing utensils. I would recommend that you invest these resources rather than relying on your computer or telephone for these tools.
That leads to my next tip- do not bring any electronics into your study space, unless it is vital for the particular assignment. Plan to only use your phone or computer when you are taking a break from studying. These electronics are simply far too distracting and will prolong the amount of time it would normally take you to complete a task. If you absolutely must use your phone for a particular app that helps you with your academics, then put it on ‘airplane mode’ to shut off cellular and wireless connection. This will not be easy, but I promise it is worth it!
Anyone who works in education will tell you that the students who seem to get ahead are always organized. Learn from these successful students and make sure that your work is organized and easily accessible. You do not want to waste time trying to locate a missing homework sheet, or trying to recall what exactly is due when. Each month, make a calendar and include upcoming tests and assignments. Hang this calendar on the wall somewhere in your study area, and feel free to use markers or highlighters to make your calendar more aesthetically pleasing. In addition, make a list of tasks that must be accomplished for school, and place them in an order based on importance and due date. This will also help you manage the stress of feeling like you have too much work and being uncertain about where to start.
If you use a computer at school or for studying, do not forget that you should also be focused on organizing the work on your computer. Create a computer folder for each subject, make sure everything is saved in the proper file, and do not forget to save your work both on your computer and an external USB.
- Make a plan
Once you have chosen the perfect space, stocked up with all the essential study tools, and organized your schedule and work, you are now ready to get down to business. Consider using an alarm to alert you when 50 minutes of studying is up. Every 50 minutes, take a 10 minute break. It is crucial that you leave your study area for your break, because you want to associate this space with studying only. Be consistent in using the space only to study in order to alert your brain that when you are there, it is time to work.
Since all your electronics are not with you, and you are physically leaving your study area every time you take a break, it goes without saying that multi-tasking must be avoided at all costs. Save watching TV shows, listening to songs with lyrics, talking to loved ones, and eating snacks for your breaks.
- Get into the zone
If you have followed all of these tips and are still looking for more tricks to improve your study space, read on! Feel free to personalize your study space as you see fit. Additionally, if your space is not working for you, change it up. Listen to what your body and brain need for optimal concentration and comfort.
Always have specific goals in mind for each time you sit down to study. For example, “For fifty minutes, I will work on finishing an outline for my essay. I will then take a ten minute break to go to the kitchen and get a snack. For the following fifty minute chunk, I will review my history notes and highlight important points”.
Come up with a study contract for yourself that you display prominently within your study area. Some good rules to include in the contract could be: “I will not go on social media while I am studying” or “I will get up every fifty minutes and take a walk around my house”
One more thing- maintain a good attitude! You must feel calm and competent to be successful. Try to make your study space a place that you feel good about getting work done, rather than a place you dread.
Happy studying J